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Dell plays shell games in comparing PCs to Macs

updated 11:45 am EDT, Mon August 9, 2010

Dell tries to scare users away from MacBooks

Dell has stirred controversy by quietly posting an inaccurate Dell versus Apple comparison section for its notebooks. The Texas PC builder tries to show that its desktops and notebooks are better values than Apple's lineup and pits the Zino HD against the Mac mini, the Inspiron 560 against the 21-inch iMac, and the Studio 15 and 17 against similarly sized MacBook Pros. For the portables, it claims Apple is charging more than twice as much for "similar" specs.

Despite the "Apples to Apples" claim, a closer inspection reveals that Dell has cherry-picked models while glossing over what its systems omit. In notebooks, the Studio notebooks are using 1.73GHz quad Core i7s versus the Macbook Pro's 2.66GHz dual Core i7. The latter is potentially faster in most cases and also gives Apple a much longer nine hours of peak battery life versus Dell's 5.5 and eight hours maximum at the quoted prices.

Dell also selectively omits display quality, backlit keyboards, Bluetooth, size, weight and the quality of support. It likewise choose temporary sales prices rather than the permanent, full price.

The desktop comparison fares worse for Dell, as it uses significantly weaker specs without contextualizing them. The Zino HD is cheaper than a Mac mini at $580 at regular price but, in return for boosting the storage to 750GB, uses a far slower Athlon Neo X2; it also omits the performance differences between graphics and that the Mac has both 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

For unknown reasons, Dell has also chosen to compare the Inspiron tower against the previous-generation iMac and again masks serious performance differences to make the 560 appear a better value. It has a Core 2 Quad but, at a fixed 2.33GHz, is significantly slower than Apple's current dual 3.2GHz Core i3. Its Radeon HD 5450 is much slower than the 5670 in the modern $1,499 iMac, and the sheet implies that the iMac lacks 802.11n Wi-Fi when it not only has this but Bluetooth as well as a matching wireless keyboard and mouse set. The Inspiron uses a budget LCD where the iMac is using a color-accurate IPS panel.

None of the listed Apple prices include educational discounts, which until the end of the summer also include a free iPod.

Exaggeration is a frequent strategy in computer comparisons and has been used by Apple in the past, but it's unclear why Dell has chosen to suddenly attack the company and not HP or Acer. The most likely answer is the relative share of the educational market, as Apple has a disproportionately high amount of American college and university computer sales.

by MacNN Staff



  1. facebook_Carter

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Aug 2010


    Deal being sneaky!

    Don't trust a comparison when it comes from one of the manufacturers! There will always be hidden info that makes one come out on top of the other.

  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Least of all things, they never posted the processor speeds. Ha!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You mean one product manufacturer selectively compares their product against a competitor? You're kidding me! Well, it is Dell. I mean, no one else would dare put out an incomplete comparison!

    Next thing you know, Apple or it's users will show 'real' comparisons, but omit features like ExpressCard slots, # of USB slots, replaceable batteries, etc., because, well, no one uses ExpressCard, you can just carry a USB hub, and why in the world would anyone ever replace a battery! It's not like they have a history of bulging or anything.

  1. HappySlug

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not a big surprise

    I particularly enjoy the Zino/Mini comparison where they note that the Mini has no keyboard or mouse included and then says to add $100 cost! Yes you could pay that much for higher end peripherals, but I bet what Dell gives you are the basic USB versions worth less than $30.

  1. solefald

    Joined: Dec 1969



    where the h*** did they manage to "find" a MBP with 512 megs or ram for $2,200??

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Lying in advertising is only going to take

    a company but so far. I think Dell should do whatever they want in their marketing and let consumers decide for themselves. If consumers buy a product that doesn't live up to expectations, then they may not be repeat customers. If consumers think that Apple computers are TOO expensive and they're getting gypped, then they'll just stop buying them. It's as simple as that. If Dell actually sells a better computer at a cheaper price than Apple, then more power to Dell. Apple should just continue what it is doing by selling relatively high-quality products and continue to give good after-sales customer help, I think that should be good enough. To h*** with Dell. They run their company the way they want and good for them. Individual consumers will make their own choices and that's that.

  1. Eldernorm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hey, Give Dell a break.

    Remember that Dell was the one the government found to be knowingly using defective / underrated parts that would fail shortly after startup and then pretended that it was user error so they did not want to fulfill the warrentte.

    You have to give them a break cause they are having so many troubles. :-)

    Just a thought.

  1. bonaccij

    Joined: Dec 1969


    At the end of the day

    anyone with 1/2 a brain can decide which computer is best for them. Some will choose Dell, others will choose Apple. Sadly, for a lot of people, it is the bottom sticker price.

    I will say, over the past 3 years I have had several (read that as *a lot of*) people switch from their Dells to Apples... and couldn't be happier. Also, I have to wonder what the resale value is of these Dell machines after a year... I know what it is for the macs I've gotten rid of for people. Enough for them to upgrade to better, newer machines.

  1. rombe3jr

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Dell is on the ropes

    There can only be one explaination for such a low blow... Dell's numbers are down much more than anticipated. If they have to lie to keep some more customers, then it just shows what kind of company they really are.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Video Memory et al.

    Looks like Dell doesn't have a dedicated video card in those notebooks. They certainly don't have a 9 hour battery. How many FireWire ports does the Dell have?

    The Dell Studio 15 hinges are c***, I personally have replaced hinges in 6 of those systems in the last couple months.

    And am I correct to point out that ALL the iMacs have at least a Core i3 CPU? The only units with Core 2 anymore is the MacBook and the Mini. And why do the hard disks have a disclaimer stating formatted space is less, but only on the Mac Hard disks? They don't point out which version of the OS is installed on the Dell, 32 or 64 bit. And Windows 7 Ultimate is what you need to use to compare with the features of Snow Leopard.

    And why do they not list any wireless on the iMac? But hey they come with AntiVirus software which is completely useless to the Mac.

    I am curious about why the 17" MacBook Pro doesn't have an i7 version yet.

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